I Am My Father’s Daughter

My father was tall and slender.  He had a melodious voice, deep, soulful and unforgettable.  I knew he was home or nearby as soon and I heard his voice.  It was daddy and daddy was home.

My mother had long thick hair.  My father, on the other hand, had thin hair with a strange hairline which looked U-shaped.  I inherited that strange hairline, receding at the temples and coming to a peak at my forehead.  That look doesn’t work well on a woman’s head which is why I always wore my hair layered, curled, combed back and pushed forward.  This created a feathered look that covered the area along the temples.  I so hated my hair growing up because, unlike other kids, I never could get that great afro.  I had to roll my hair, every night, just to get it to stand up without falling in the center.  If I didn’t roll my hair I looked like I stuck my finger in an electric socket — straight, standing up and in need of taming.  I am my father’s daughter.

My father was tall and thin.  I too was tall for my age, thin, and it seems the only large part of my body were my knees; you could see them from miles away.  Buying clothes for a tall girl of my age was a chore because not a single pair of pants fit me, or went from my waist fully to my ankles.  I hated shopping for clothes.  Not only were my pants too short, my feet were the size of a platypus and I often referred to my feet as platypus feet.  My father had big feet too and yes, I am my father’s daughter.

I also inherited his bad temper and it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I finally calmed myself realizing my anger did me more harm than good.  I blew up, like him, and like him I too put pedal to the metal when I was angry, had a very short fuse, and told anyone off in a New York minute.  Thanks to an anger management class — a mandatory anger management class — I learned to both cool my heels and walk away.  Instead, I went with my mother’s technique.  If I’m not interested in dealing with you and if I feel you’re not worth the trouble of further engagement, I will use a sharp blade (no cursing), cut you into tiny little pieces, walk away and as I cross the threshold I’ll turn, smile, blow and watch you fall into tiny pieces onto the floor.  I am my father’s daughter with a little help from my mother.  Like my mother, I don’t suffer fools gladly.

I inherited something else from my father, bad teeth.  He never did an open mouth smile.  His lips stayed tightly closed and spread wide to form a smile.  That was it.  I learned that technique as I went through life suffering with my bad teeth.  I’ve had several root canals, bridges, implants, name it I did it to save my teeth until Prednisone came to town.  That’s when all manner of mess hit the fan.  My teeth started falling out without warning, chipping, breaking and when I lost my bridge I thought I would die, literally, it hurt so bad.  Since I could no longer take Ibuprofen (the stuff that reduces swelling), I suffered with tooth pain.  After all of the medication I had taken, the strongest teeth in my mouth were implants and a bridge.  My teeth crumbled and broke and often it was without pain.  I could not believe what was happening and still, I went to dentist after dentist trying to save them to no avail.

Yes, I am my father’s daughter and what comes to mind now is what my mother told me about my father after his death.  My father died in a horrible accident in the 60’s when I was seven-years old.  According to my mother, he was unrecognizable as he was burned over 80% of his body.  When she was asked to identify him in the morgue, she knew it was him because of his teeth.  I don’t know how long I have to live but I particularly do not wish for my mother to look into my mouth to identify me.

My mother’s story about my father did give me pause though and I thought long and hard about what I felt I needed to do.  I did some research and was flabbergasted at what I learned.  I could not believe the number of young people, in their 20’s no less, who are wearing dentures.  YOUNG!!  Very young.  I, like many, associated dentures with people my age or older, not young-uns.  Oh but there are many and they are all over YouTube.

I learned all I could from young, middle-aged and older people like KalinJax, Bill Westlund, and others on the University of YouTube.  I wanted to know the procedure for having all of my teeth yanked, did I need to go without teeth for an extended period of time, did it hurt (of course it did), and what was the procedure.  I will tell you I definitely got an education and finally, after much thought and research, I went for it.

Fortunately, I found a dentist in my area who actually does a lot of denture work for the homeless.  He was a Godsend.  I initially saw one dentist who pulled my 27 bad and failing teeth.  Afterwards, I saw Dr. Campbell at Century Dental, who then took over and has cared for me past the immediate dentures (the ones they put in your mouth when the teeth are pulled) up to my permanent dentures, which is what I’m wearing now.

I hate I waited so long to do this but, quite frankly, I had run out of options.  With Prednisone, the bones aren’t what they used to be and my teeth were not holding up under the medication.  I think chemotherapy was the final straw for my teeth.  I did consider All-On-Fours and implants but, again, there is an issue with bone and I didn’t want drilling in the upper (and weaker) portion of my mouth.  As for my lower jaw, right now I’m holding off but maybe I’ll do it later and that will allow me to snap them into my mouth with little or no adhesive.  As it is now, with my permanent dentures, I rarely use an adhesive.

Through the wonderful folks on the University of Youtube, I learned about products like adhesives (I cannot do anything containing zinc), care of the dentures, and tips and tricks.  By the time I went in to have the work done, I was fully armed with everything I needed before and after.  I was prepared.

I can smile now without covering my mouth and yes, I’ve told everyone I have dentures and, interestingly enough, I’ve had many ask me about the procedure and I know one person who took the plunge herself.

Yes, I am my father’s daughter but I did not want to go on enduring the pain I know he experienced.  I’ve heard the stories and I know how much he hated dentists.  He just couldn’t take the needles in his mouth and like him, neither could I.  The good news, unless I get the bottom implants, I will not have to deal with another needle and even then it will be on the bottom and not the roof of my mouth.

Finally, I am now free of the misery I’ve been enduring for years, pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis.  It’s also nice to pop ’em in when I need them and pop ’em out when I don’t.  I no longer have to worry about what foods I eat because I can eat anything now without worrying about breaking a tooth or worse, an implant — that really hurts.  But, I’m still my father’s daughter.



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